Tag Archives: lgbtq blogger

Queertober Reads Pt. 2

“Not a choice. Not a preference”
By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

In light of LGBTQIA+ history month and continuing my Queer book suggestions, I want to just put a reminder out there for folks…

Please be mindful of your word choice, because the words that you choose are in fact a choice. Whereas someones gender or sexuality is not, nor is it a preference.

Words have the power to be just as harmful as a fist- so be aware of the language you are using.

And on that note…happy Friday & happy (quee)reading!

Source: Google Images

Funhome by Alison Bechdel
Who is it for? Adults and Young Adults
Why I recommend it: This graphic novel brought me joy, and brought to life the magnificent phrase, “ring of keys moment”. If you say, wait – isn’t that a musical? and haven’t read the book… please go run to your local library or bookstore, now.

Source: Google Images

Pansy by Andrea Gibson
Who is it for? Teens, Young Adults, and Adults
Why I recommend it: Honestly, all of their poetry will leave you in your feelings and wanting more – but this book particularly is just a personal fave. After you read a poem – look up their spoken word performances (their performance really brings their poetry to life).

Source: Google Images

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Who is it for? Teens, Young Adults, and Adults
Why I recommend it: Recently released this year – a memoir that needs to be read and one that will make it impossible to put down until you finish. It’s a book that needs to be in ALL libraries.

Source: Google Images

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
Who is it for? Teens and older
Why I recommend it: Set in the 80’s this book is a coming-of-age, feel good story – but make it gay. And who doesn’t need a good book like that right about now?

Source: Google Images

Fresh Ink: Anthology
Who is it for? Teens and older
Why I recommend it: An anthology of sorts that has dashes of Queerness within – written for Young Adult, but I am an advocate for adults reading more YA.

Source: Google Images

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Who is it for? Pre-teens and above!
Why I recommend it: A Queer book for the younger ones – this story is so Queer positive and I really wish this was required reading in classes. Just look at that beautiful cover.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

If You Could be Mine AND Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Who is it for? Young Adults and Adults
Why I recommend it: I wish I had these books when I was a teen, but unfortunately I had to wait till my twenties. If you want your heart to flutter, insides to feel warm, and fall in love with another author – these books by Sara Farizan are for you.

Source: Google Images

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack and Stevie Lewis
Who is it for? Everyone (especially littles!)
Why I recommend it: The action, the love, the illustrations – this picture book is a winner. While your little is reading a rad book, they are also being shown that the Prince CAN fall in love with the Knight. Because, remember, kids should be taught young that they can like whoever they fancy – and books are sometimes the best teachers for important life lessons!

Source: Google Images

Queer, There, & Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager
Who is it for? Everyone
Why I recommend it: We should all be learning about the Queer folks who changed our world. LGBTQIA+ history isn’t taught or talked about enough – so if you read this book you are learning & you can teach others. It’s a win-win situation and what an excellent ally move (or if you are Queer you’re learning about pieces of your community’s history, and how badass is that!)

More book suggestions to come next week for Queertober reads!

Queertober Reads Pt. 1

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Two important facts: If you didn’t know, my day job is being a librarian and it’s LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning,Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic, and beyond) history month. This used to be the month that I would head to Philly for Outfest, but that looks different this year (as have many “usual” things).

So, this week I’m putting on my librarian hat and throwing some Queer books out there for you all to read.

A note of my own experience with why I believe it is important for Queer books to exist and to be read: Growing up, I tried to find myself in books like Perks of Being a Wallflower or Catcher in the Rye – ultimately forcing myself to believe the main characters were actually Queer and not cis hetero men.

Thankfully we live in a time where LGBTQIA+ books are being published more often now so that there are options to read characters that are reflective for some or can be a window for others.

Here are some of my favorite Queer books both classic and new that I suggest you add to your to-read list (or some to add to your little humans lives, if you have any little humans in your life):
*I will break this up into separate posts over the month of October because my list is incredibly long*

Source:Google Images

Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran
Who is it for? Adults
Why I recommend it: The feelings, the love, the twists, and the letters. I’ve read this book many times over and my hopeless romantic queer-self feels extremely connected to this book every single time. Read it if you’re a sucker for love or books told throughout different periods of time. (CW: mentions of rape)

Source: Google Images

Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Who is it for? Everyone! (minus maybe the littles, but even they would enjoy the graphics)
Why I recommend it: It’s October and this graphic novel is ’tis the season! If you are in need of a lighthearted, quick, and beautifully illustrated read – Pick. Up. This. Book.

Source: Google Images

I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux
Who is it for? Adults and Young Adults
Why I recommend it: This book is a collection of essays and it is brilliantly entertaining. If you need a laugh and a book that’ll be nearly impossible to put down – this is the book for you.

Source: Google Images

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Who is it for? Adults
Why I recommend it: A true classic of Queer womxn literature – which i didn’t discover until my twenties. This is the book I wish I had instead of Catcher in the Rye because Rita Mae writes in such an elegant way the obstacles and events of growing up and discovering the journey of your sexuality.

Source: Google Images

Lumberjanes series
Who is it for? Everyone!
Why I recommend it: The best of the best – a fun, lovely graphic novel series that made my Queer heart flutter when I first discovered it. Without a doubt you will fall in love with the characters and the adventures the campers go on. This is one truthfully for all ages, so go ahead and buy it for the family or nephews/nieces/niblings.

Source: Google Images

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Who is it for? Adults and Older Teens
Why I recommend it: One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – this is a book that the main character is one you’ll fall in love with, root for, and want to be best friends with at the end. A book of discovering identity and a demonstration that that discovery is never a linear one.

Source: Google Images

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Who is it for? Teens, Young Adult, and Adult
Why I recommend it: Honestly, I recommend anything and everything Adam Silvera has written – this is just a personal favorite. The story is beautifully written and heartbreaking at times – for my fellow Queers it is at times eerily relatable. Read this title or any other by Adam Silvera and I gurantee he will become on of your favorite new authors.

Source: Google Images

Annie’s Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids
Who is it for? Littles (and really, everyone!)
Why I recommend it: This cover is everything and the minute I saw this picture book I wished it existed when I was younger. This is a great read for littles and adults alike to get a glimpse into gender identity (which is a spectrum) as well as individuality.

Source: Google Images

Julián Is a Mermaid Jessica Love
Who is it for? Littles (and really, everyone!)
Why I recommend it: A fabulous picture book that reminds us as readers the importance of allowing everyone (especially littles) that they should be free to be who they are. This is worth reading for a glimpse into letting littles be the little humans they are outside of (stereotypical, and harmful) gender norms and binaries.

More Music. Less Social Media.

By Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

I tried to hold myself accountable this week by listening to more music and being on social media less. My conclusion was that I need to do this more often.

This wasn’t something where I attempted to avoid social media all together, just being aware of intentionally using it less. There were definite times when I had to check myself. Like when I would find my finger subconsciously hitting the Instagram button when I was just trying to check the weather app.

Making this intentional change for the week was important because I wanted to be focusing on doing things for myself. Not letting work or other obstacles deteriorate my mental health.

So, I revisited an old habit of mine that allows me to recenter. I was listening to music that reminds me of bright moments throughout my life. One thing I truthfully love about music is how a song or an artist can sort of transform us back to a “back when” moment or remind of us a certain person.

Here are a few songs that have taken me back this week to more delightful moments

1. Mother We Share – Chvrches

Okay, so I am a fan of the entire album and I highly recommend it if you haven’t listened to it before. This song particularly though transforms me back to my first year in Philly – my first year of “independence” as an adult. They were definitely times of struggle for various reasons, but overall this song brings me feelings of nostalgia for a time in my life that I will forever be grateful for. A time in my life that helped me grow.

2. Naked Kids – Grouplove

This is another song that takes me back to Philly. A time when I was waiting tables, running food, and making cocktails. I thought I was going to be in the restaurant industry forever, I didn’t realize how special the moments I was living in would end up being. I met a handful of spectacular folks working in the industry in Philly – the job itself wasn’t always pretty. The memories we made both on and after the shifts were over – those are the moments I will cherish forever.

3. The Garden State Soundtrack

Did I mention I was from New Jersey? Don’t hold it against me, please. Well, I was in high school when I fell in love with the movie Garden State (that was Zach Braff’s love letter to NJ) and I fell even deeper in love with the soundtrack. I am pretty sure my senior year quote was straight from this movie, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like.” Anyway, this entire soundtrack is beautiful and it needs to be listened to in its entirety (I have it on vinyl, and I highly recommend it). It’s important for me to note, I hated high school and I would never ever want to relive the experience. This music takes me back to the house that I grew up in for 23 years, and driving around in my old Jeep Cherokee Sport getting lost in the music driving along the back bay roads.

4. Cake – Flo Rida

Pure joy and silliness is what feeling this song ignites for me. 2017 was my last year in Philly and it was also my last year coaching the team that meant a lot to me – which is when this song was brought into my life. The team was in a van, on a spring break road trip, as the other assistant coach was driving she turns this song on. It was followed by a lot of laughter and memories I keep with me on days when I need to be taken back to that time in my life.

5. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John

My first New Years in DC, I didn’t know many people other than those I worked with. I was invited to a (now very dear) friends house and at some point in the night I think this song played a couple of times. For whatever reason, I’ve held onto this song because of the line “I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you” those words remind me of the close friends I have made in DC. Living here hasn’t always been easy- but I know life brought me to this city for a reason. I truthfully believe a majority of that reason is because of the people that entered my life while I have been here and changed it for the better in ways they may not be aware of. Those folks are some pretty tremendous humans that I am reminded of whenever I hear this song. *Also highly recommend Mandy Moore’s cover of this song*

Be sure to share in the comments a song that brings you back to a time or person in your life that brings a smile to your face.

Now, I am going to go get lost in some music and Mariah Carey’s memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey that arrived in the mail earlier this week.

The (Defeating) Path to Publication

“Look in the mirror and repeat”
by Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

How is it possible to stay positive when you keep getting met with rejection?

I’ve been posing this question to myself for the past couple of weeks. I recently took an initiative to try to get my writing published. While in grad school writing took a backseat for a few years, and now that I graduated this past May- I have my focus back on my true passion of writing.

A perhaps strange fact about me is when I was younger, I loved getting rejection notices, because it still meant my writing was being received. Lately, it has felt defeating and left me questioning my own abilities.

In those moments I try to think of advice from writers I admire. Remembering reading their journeys of how they got to where they are and that is was often met with rejection before it was met with admiration.

Some of the things that I have added to my to-do list to get past these drowning feels of rejection are:

  • Reading poetry – lots and lots of it
    • I’m trying to remember that reading words from poets I admire can inspire me to keep going. Some of the poets I keep reading over & over lately: Rudy Francisco, Mary Oliver, & Andrea Gibson. If you haven’t read any of their work – go read it now…even if you aren’t looking to get inspired to write…I promise you these poets will inspire you to DO ANYTHING you’ve been looking to get inspired to do.
  • Painting
    • This is not my area of expertise in any shape or form – believe me I have close friends that can ACTUALLY paint. However, my partner recently bought me a plethora of things to paint with and I have found it to center me when I need it the most. I’ve been experiencing plenty of “down” feelings lately because of writers block as well as rejection letters – so I am grateful for this newly discovered outlet. (Shameless plug of my “art” Instagram: @allusiontoreality).
  • Going for a walk
    • This is something I used to do a lot when I lived in Philly and that habit stopped when I moved to DC – p.s. Philly, I miss you. Starting back up the daily walking habit has helped though. Just as much as searching for flowers to take pictures of as I go. Looking for beauty around me to remind me of the importance of not allowing myself to stay in the negative headspace.
  • Sitting with it
    • Sometimes this is the most important thing to do. I allow myself to feel the feelings for a few moments, and then pull myself together to make a plan for the next move.

As I write this I am already thinking of the list of submissions I will make for this week.

What are somethings that get you through feelings of defeat? Or fellow writers, do you have any advice for feeling like you’re on a road that keeps putting rejection signs in your path?

The Soundtrack of My Week

“Give yourself a break”
by Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

What a week.

As I type that I can hear Jack Donaghy in my head reminding Liz Lemon it’s only Wednesday. The show has been off for years, and I still find 30 Rock references to be relevant in my everyday life. *cue the BLERGH sound effect*

For the sake of my own sanity, I have been forcing myself to find pockets of joy in every possible way. Lately, music has been what is bringing me that flash of glittering happiness. Whether it is listening to the music on my laptop, headphones, or vinyl on my record player.

The songs are never the same genre and never within the same decade. My music taste is vast and it ranges over a plethora of time periods. I owe that to my “old soul” personality and to my Dad who raised me to appreciate a wide array of music. So, if you ever need a partner on “Name that Tune” just send me an e-mail and I am game.

I am going to share the songs that have been getting me through this week within this post. Maybe they will inspire you to make a playlist. (Just a note, I have a playlist for every season and every moment or mood. I take making playlists very, very seriously.) Maybe my song suggestions will help you to discover a new artist or song. I just know what the power of music has done for me when I use it intentionally. And maybe, with intention, you will be able to find a tune to get lost into – if even for a moment. Those tiny moments are vital right now.

So what are my songs of the week you might be wondering?

  1. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer & Kygo

Overall, this week I have been listening to (on repeat) a “disco diva” playlist on Spotify. This is a prime example of what I mean when I say the music I am listening to depends on my mood. Then, Kygo dropped this remix last Friday and it has been on repeat daily in my apartment

2. Loose Lucy – Grateful Dead

I grew up a fan of classic rock and more so grew into liking jam bands when I was a teenager thru my early twenties. If you have been to my apartment or “you knew me when” you would know that I am a bit of a Dead Head. This week I was revisiting my roots and this song had me up and dancing along as if I was at a Dead concert all over again.

3. A No No – Mariah Carey

The only person that can get away with using “irregardless” (because that is not a word) in a song and make it a bop is Ms. Mariah. I have been on a “I have a watch, but I do not have the time” kick lately with a lot of things – so this song has felt like my theme song for the past two weeks.

4. I Am Woman – Helen Reddy

This song has two meanings for me. I played it on repeat Friday after I heard the news of RBG’s passing while on the phone with a good friend. The other meaning this song has me for me was a few years ago, during my first year of coaching – the head coach had the athletes make up a dance to this song at the end of the season as a traditional team bonding activity. Lately, I have been missing that community a lot and how that place & those people really felt like a second home.

5. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service

Truthfully, I have been listening to this whole album on repeat as I go for walks. This is a throwback to younger times for me, but has always been a favorite. Listening to it now has a different meaning to me than what it meant to me years ago. I love how music can grow with us, and teach us different things as we get older – even though it is the same old song.

See, I told you my taste was random. If you aren’t a fan of the music I shared this week, that’s okay- maybe the next time I share a few songs you will enjoy a couple of them.

Now, I challenge you- is there any song this week that has been giving you that glitter of happiness? Share it with me in the comments, there is nothing I enjoy more than discovering new music. Especially music that gives others a sense of joy.

Remember to keep in mind – sometimes we just need a reset, and sometimes we just need to dance it out. *See what I did there? Begin with a TV reference and end with a TV reference. Thank you Yang, Grey, and Shonda Rhimes*